Pruning and Training Ramblers

hartwoodJanuary 1, 2011

The weather here in Virginia has been unseasonably mild for the past two days ... high 50's both days with sun yesterday, and clouds today. It was perfect weather to shake off some cabin fever and go outside and prune the Ramblers.

I took photos as I was working with Albertine, since I figured this rose would show best what I do when I prune her. Francois Juranville and Aviateur Bleriot were a tangled mess, and my photos of these don't show anything useful. I put up a post on my blog a little while ago, with instructions to help demystify what I do to keep my Ramblers in bounds.

It felt so good to get outside for a couple of days and accomplish so much!

Here is a link that might be useful: How I Prune and Train Ramblers

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Thanks for the step-by-step instructions. I ordered my first rambler for this coming spring so I appreciated the how-to guide. What kind of shears do you recommend? I'll be needing to pick up a pair of those in the near future.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 9:55PM
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Connie, I just read your blog and then saw your post. Very helpful with clear photos. But my Francois Juranville is growing up an 8' tall rebar arbor and all the way across the 8' width and beyond, plus he's free to go up into a couple of trees. He has been in the ground a year last Sept. He might have had 1 or 2 flowers last year or maybe not, I forget. Do the blooming side shoots have to come off old wood? There are reports of his reblooming in Florida, so that's what I'm hoping for, but I mostly just wanted a lax climber to cover this vacant arbor. At any rate I just tied him laying across the top so he doesn't blow off. I don't think he has a dozen canes yet, but he put out 3 thick ones in October! One of which was clipped off by a squirrel but then sprouted a new cane near the end! Cool. Can't wait for all those blooming side shoots.

Thanks for the lesson. It was very helpful.


Here is a link that might be useful: If only sweat were irrigation...

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 9:56PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Connie -- I want to put a link to this in the February issue of "Rose Letter." I think it'll help a lot of folks.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 11:01PM
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Thanks for the tutorial. I was just heading out to get to work on 'Leontine Gervais', so the timing is perfect!
Happy New Year!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 3:19AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Connie, that is so helpful.
I would love to see how you handle an arbor too. I have many roses on an arbor, and am totally lost when it comes to caring for them.

In my case I have teas or noisettes.



    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 7:16AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Thanks for that Connie, I don't have any true ramblers, but I have a Teasing Georgia that acts like one. I had it on a huge umbrella trellis, but that blew down in a big storm 2 years ago and I haven't been able to get a handle on her since. I have her on an obelisk but I don't think that's displaying her at her best. I'll try some of the tips in your blog.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 10:05AM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Thanks, Connie. Excellent lesson. Only question: how and with what (special tape, rope, etc.) do you attach the canes to the fence or wire?


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 10:29AM
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maureeninmd(z6 MD)

I spent too much time yesterday wrestling with City of York and Veilchenblau. I have let the bases grow to small tree-like proportions and am not sure what to do now. City of York is planted on a arbor (not a wise decision) and Veilchenblau is supposed to cover a shed but was trained so poorly that it blows off in high winds. I make everything too difficult!

Connie - if I send you a few pictures perhaps you can advise me? I pledge to do much better with my new ramblers.

"Experience is a dear teacher, but fools will learn at no other" (Franklin).


    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 1:04PM
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Nice one Connie, I love your rambler fence. :D Do you also grow some of the setigeras on your rambler fence? Mine wichuranas and multifloras are reasonably easy to deal with, but with setigeras I am in doubt, as they are somewhat floppy and try their best to become a ground cover instead of a rambler - hope that they will grow out of it, as renegade canes escape to the sidewalk!

Also, I believe you had Paul Lede climber? How it is doing for you? :)

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 4:40PM
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Let's see how well I can answer these questions without going on TOO long.

Pruners? My favorite one are Felco #6, which were given to me as a gift. They're comfortable, easy to maintain and sharpen, and I can cut just about anything with them.

One thing I failed to mention is the importance of a good pair of gloves. My best ones for pruning like this are made of deerskin ... they are soft and flexible and tough as any gloves out there. Rarely does a thorn make it through a good pair of deerskin gloves.

Old wood, for me, is defined as the canes that grew last year or before. Sherry, your Francois Juranville was probably too young to have much old wood last spring. If he were mine, I would let the portion that goes over the arch and into the tree do whatever it wants to do. (That's what I'm planning to do with my American Pillar) Any parts that you want to keep within reach can be trained my way.

Jeri, feel free to link to any of my blog posts that you think will be of interest to HRG readers. I'm flattered.

Melissa, Leontine Gervais is probably my favorite rambler. Her lax canes are a dream to train, and she rewards the care by blooming her butt off in spring.

Sammy, any climber can be pruned using my principles. All it really involves is the removal of old or bloomed out wood and arranging what's left. Don't be afraid to cut out a cane to open up space for new growth. I do the same thing for the climbers on my Arcade, except I spiral the remaining canes upward around the posts. I'm still working out a system that works for me to train roses to an arbor or an arch. I mostly just put the canes wherever, and hope for the best. (With your no-spray garden, you MUST grow ramblers!!!)

buford, I've seen photos of your Teasing Georgia, and I would be inclined to keep it to a limited number of relatively new canes to help reduce the mass.

Years ago, my husband bought me a Max Tapener (a vineyard tool) to use to attach rose canes to their support. It allows me to work by myself and makes very short work of tying climbers. I linked below to a post where I demonstrated how to use it. I used jute twine before this. The twine is natural, and it will disintegrate in a year or two ... just about the time you'll need to take the rose down and tidy it up.

maureen, City of York on an arbor?? Wow! That's going to take some work. With your Veilchenblau, you can do what Robert does with his Cl. Cecile Brunner, which kept blowing off the roof of his chicken house. He keeps it up there by tying the canes to cinderblocks on the roof. It hasn't blown off since.

elemire, setigeras are the focus of my newest interest, and I grow them in a different part of the garden. I grow Arcata Pink Globe, Himmelsauge, and Geschwind's Nordlandrose (which are good here). I thought I had Baltimore Belle, but it turned out to be identical to my Arcata Pink Globe. Errinnerung an Brod hasn't done well, and I will probably remove it this summer, along with a few other Geschwind roses. I am very excited to grow a Pennsylvania-found setigera that was given to me by a friend this spring. Most setigeras are American roses, and they are underappreciated and disappearing. My disappointing Geschwind roses will be replaced on their fence with setigeras.

All of my ramblers would probably be ground cover if I let them. Each of the ramblers has had basal canes crawl across the bed and out to the grass beyond, only to be chewed off by the lawn mower.

Paul Lede, Cl., is beautiful when in bloom. My plant had a difficult time this past summer, with a combination of heat, drought, and fungus that made it practically leafless by mid-summer (I wasn't too diligent with my fungicide.) Despite this, I got a really nice repeat bloom from him in September and October.

In the part of two days that I spent pruning, The only roses I have left to do now are Paul Transon, American Pillar, and Silver Moon. A friend was here while I was working on Alberic Barbier, and he and I worked on opposite sides of the fence, which cut the time we spent on this rose at least in half. It was great to have a trained eye to assist with this, because we communicated well and AB looks great!

My goal with this is to convince rose growers that ramblers aren't nearly as scary as they imagine them to be ... and the rewards of growing them are beyond compare.


Here is a link that might be useful: Post on the tool I use to attach roses to structure

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 7:58AM
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maureeninmd(z6 MD)

City of York on an arbor? Yep, it's been 8 years of bloody battling but I'm still winning! so far... It's in a very shady spot but puts on an astounding show.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 2:01PM
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So, Connie, how is Hallie's Rose doing that I sent you? I'm kind of interested to see how it does down South.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 10:37PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Connie,you are so helpful. When you have an older rose like a tea or china, do you look for the oldest canes, and start cutting out one or two each year so that your rose will shoot out new basils?

Also, with large roses or with climbers, do you always cut them back to a certain size in the spring? Rev d' Or for example - mine goes way over the arbor and almost hits the ground on the other side. Should I prune it back to where it starts to go over the arbor?


    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 6:37AM
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All of my ramblers would probably be ground cover if I let them.

For me worst of those is Spectabilis. Very healthy, rather vigorous, but tends to escape all bit more loose ties and untangles itself from support with a bigger wind! Hope he will stiffen with time.

(Paul Lede)My plant had a difficult time this past summer, with a combination of heat, drought, and fungus that made it practically leafless by mid-summer

Hm loosing all leaves does not sound too promising. But I was wondering more about its habit, is he stiff like hybrid teas, or rather flexible? And is he leggy, or branches out down bellow?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 7:18AM
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